OCTOBER 2002

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Getting Into College Then Learning Korean
From JoongAng
Aug 11, 2002

By Lee, Hyun-Sang

In general, Korean parents find it important to send their children to Korean language schools - that is, until their children get into high school. For Korean parents, high school often marks the point in their children's lives when learning Korean becomes a secondary goal to getting into a prestigious university.

According to several Korean language schools, enrollment for high school age children drops dramatically - almost half the number of middle school age students - as children are encouraged to spend more time on improving their grades, getting involved in extracurricular activities, and preparing their college applications.

Mr. Yoon, a parent of a high school child in Long Island, said, "It is hard to send my children to study Korean on Saturday mornings because most high school extracurricular or volunteer activities are held on Saturday.

According to the Association of New York Korean Education, there were 641 students enrolled in 107 Korean language school programs geared toward high school students. This number was 58.3 percent of the number of students (1099) enrolled in the Korean language schools for middle school students.

As a result of the decreasing number of high school students enrolled in these language schools, many of these language classes are disappearing. The National Association for Korean School Northeast Chapters pointed out that amongst its approximately 120 member schools in the tri-state area, about half of those schools do not have a language program for high school students.

One high school principal pointed out that parents resisted sending their high school-aged children to these language schools because the parents preferred sending their children to SAT prep institutes.

Byung-Nam Yoon, president of the National Association for Korean School Northeast Chapters, argued, "The level of Korean taught in middle school is enough Korean for use in daily life, but falls short of meeting the level of ability required to use Korean in a professional setting."

He added, "There are cases where high school students give up learning Korean because there are no classes available for them. We have to look for ways to continue to provide classes for those who want to continue learning by possibly coordinating with another Korean language school that provides courses for high school-aged children."

Translated from Korean by JooYeon Lee

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